18

votes

How do you keep your kids informed about nutrition without turning them into pompous know-it-alls who call out others' food choices?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 10, 2011 at 6:09 PM

There are a lot of threads here on how to feed your kids healthfully and how to talk to them about nutrition.

However, there aren't any that deal with the next logical consequence: if you do a thorough job of explaining to your kids during meal prep, during grocery shopping, etc. about why you make the food choices that you do, it's inevitable that their crafty little brains will soon apply that knowledge, and in a social setting independent of their paleo parents, they might:

  • With genuine concern, inform their grandparents that they are unhealthy eaters
  • Worriedly inform their classmates that the Fruit by the Foot/Lunchables/chips that they eat every day in their packed lunch is unhealthy
  • Make it known to the birthday boy/girl that brightly, cheerfully decorated sheet cake from the store is full of ingredients that will make them sick

In other words, how do you keep your kids fully informed/educated about their nutritional choices while also teaching them the social graces (even for exuberant no-filter 3 and 4 year olds!) that are required to keep them from being social killjoys?

65333605eb0e62ccdb9ffaac00727bc6

(150)

on September 09, 2012
at 11:18 AM

+1 Happy Now...I am working on the social grace thing with my 4 year old...Not about nutrition, but about physical differences...IE, an elderly woman we met yesterday who had a bandaid on her face (she said she had something removed by the doctor...her friend said she is very ill, so I think she might have skin cancer)...My little girl, "What's wrong with you? What happened to your face?" I know she's young and it's natural curiosity, but tact starts in the home, you know?

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on August 11, 2011
at 04:37 AM

+1 for a proper ballsy answer.

3874fa3e7624fb3134013c43766b6eba

(110)

on August 11, 2011
at 04:33 AM

That's how I handle smoking questions when my 5 yr old asks why someone is "cigaretting" outside the entrance to a store. "It's his choice to do that but Mommy doesn't do that". My son knows I believe cigarettes are very bad, and he's concerned for this stranger at the door - but when he hears it's that person's choice he tends to let it drop. I only wish it was that easy with his questions & commentary on grains & sugary-garbage treats.

485bcefe7f1f7a6df1a293a826bf6137

(2191)

on August 11, 2011
at 12:30 AM

Kids? I wish I could get my wife to stop doing it!

6214f6185627f279fccf55cde93756d0

(20)

on August 10, 2011
at 09:28 PM

Had this VERY thing happen just today, matter of fact! My 4 year old daughter says, "Ms. Cheryl, you really should eat healthier." AACK! So let me know if you figure out how to do this! :) I do like other's suggestions of just trying to keep it positive!

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on August 10, 2011
at 08:08 PM

Oy, I was one of those embarrassing food lecturing kids. We were vegetarian low fat folks, and I would give my meat eating friends and family a hard time. It might have been better if we had focused on social grace when I was young, and then added in the nutrition lessons later.

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on August 10, 2011
at 07:31 PM

Very true, the paleo kids' remarks could be couched in genuine concern, but unfortunately that doesn't stop those remarks from being interpreted on the part of the party wolfing down a bag of Cheesy Poophz as being judgy wudgy.

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on August 10, 2011
at 07:27 PM

Very true, the paleo kids' remarks could be couched in genuine concern, but unfortunately that does stop those remarks from being interpreted as judgy wudgy on the part of the party wolfing down a bag of Cheesy Poophz.

Medium avatar

(12379)

on August 10, 2011
at 07:26 PM

thanks for sticking that song in my head akd ;)

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on August 10, 2011
at 07:20 PM

It would make a great topic, indeed. Guess I'd have to feel like I'd honed a few workable strategies first

6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on August 10, 2011
at 07:20 PM

It's not pompous know-it-all, just frank innocence. Refreshing.

B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on August 10, 2011
at 07:17 PM

i got better at it with each child. my oldest is very judgemental and in hindsight i think i was more vocally critical of other's parenting skills as a new parent, so my behaviour probably influenced this.

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on August 10, 2011
at 07:16 PM

D'oh! I was hoping that cultivating long-term habits for onion SeaSnax and garlic laden spaghetti squash bolognese was going to result in the boys staying far, far away from the yard by the time she reaches her teenage years. :-p Maybe I can set up a Crossfit Games style gauntlet that a guy has to master before he can come a'courtin'. ;-p

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on August 10, 2011
at 07:14 PM

I'm all about the make your own to share theory, too. :)

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on August 10, 2011
at 07:12 PM

Reminds me of when my then-preschooler brother shouted across a parking lot at a fast food joint, "Mommy, look at that fat man!!" I believe he had one of those _exit, stage left while making slight gagging noise_ Bart Simpson moments, courtesy of my mom.

5d0283f9cf2480374a0b7df56b7f3d9b

(418)

on August 10, 2011
at 07:00 PM

yesterday my 5 year old boy said "why is that fat women eating that garbage food?" AAAAAAHHHHHHHH (he was right though... it was total garbage)

A45af235ed4dd0b4f548c59e91b75763

(1936)

on August 10, 2011
at 06:57 PM

Bento boxes? I don't think that is what is bringing them around..

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on August 10, 2011
at 06:52 PM

its true that famgrocks gorgeous bento boxes bring all the boys to the yard.

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on August 10, 2011
at 06:52 PM

Thanks for the encouragement...the more "real world" activities we face (birthday parties, pizza parties, pot lucks and BBQs) the harder it gets for sure!

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on August 10, 2011
at 06:51 PM

as im reading your comment, i hear hazels voice. i swear, we go through the same thing, verbatim. oy. :)

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on August 10, 2011
at 06:36 PM

Ah, an all-around extra useful parenting skill (paleo or not!), but one that's difficult to teach.

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on August 10, 2011
at 06:31 PM

Yea, I try to stick with positives, too. As in, "Mommy, look at all those special treats!" (points to end display of junk food) "I've never had those before!" --- "Yup, and do you think there's a good reason why we don't buy those?" ---(thinks) "'Cause they won't help us grow big and strong." Repeat this discussion ad nauseum, on practically every trip through a grocery store.

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on August 10, 2011
at 06:16 PM

Uh, yea. :) It feels like a continuous battle explaining to my 4 year old why she doesn't get junk food in her lunches, but while simultaneously telling her not to bring it up with her friends 'cause it's none of our business what they eat. :-\

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 10, 2011
at 06:15 PM

So basically you want to know how to socialize children and teach them tact? heeheehee Thank goodness I'm a grandmother now.

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9 Answers

10
Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on August 10, 2011
at 06:21 PM

haaa! by not being a pompous know-it all who calls out other peoples food choices! ;) really though, i think its a good point. i remember a while back someone here said they tell their kids that grains are poison! all i could think was when that kiddo goes to school or to a friends house or a restaurant or ANYWHERE OUTSIDE OF THEIR OWN HOUSE and sees people- friends, family, teachers- eating what they have been told is "poison". and how would a little kiddo navigate that information?? i would be a bit upset if some smug little jerk told my daughter that the full fat cheese she was eating was poison, and she was going to die of a heart attack from eating so much sat fat.

i find its so hard to make healthy food choices and explain to kids why we eat certain things and not other things. we tend to be pretty loose with it all though. i only maintain control over the food thing in my own house. i HOPE that someday my kids will internalize it all and make healthy choices outside the house, too. i find its hard for ME when we are out with other moms whos kids are pounding juice boxes and eating gummie "fruit" snacks without limit. i mean, how do i tell my kids that they can only have one when their friends are eating dozens without their mom feeling badly about her own choices? im really not a fan of shaming people i enjoy spending time with into eating my diet. i usually end up bringing my own snacks (for everyone to share!) when we go to a playdate- cheese cubes and fresh fruit. anyway, i know this is tangential...

my kids hear all the time that this food helps you grow healthy and strong, that food doesnt help you grow healthy and strong but can be a special treat, and that food over there is not good for your body and you shouldnt eat it. im a wicked dork, too and whenever my kids comment on someone doing something cool- like jumping off the diving board (per the pool at the Y last week), i loudly say, "WOW! SHE REALLY MUST EAT A LOT OF VEGETABLES TO JUMP THAT HIGH!" haa!

in summary (?) i think that the best way to avoid your kids being judgmental of other peoples choices is to just really emphasize the positive choices that you all make as a family and individually.

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on August 10, 2011
at 07:14 PM

I'm all about the make your own to share theory, too. :)

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on August 10, 2011
at 08:08 PM

Oy, I was one of those embarrassing food lecturing kids. We were vegetarian low fat folks, and I would give my meat eating friends and family a hard time. It might have been better if we had focused on social grace when I was young, and then added in the nutrition lessons later.

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on August 10, 2011
at 06:51 PM

as im reading your comment, i hear hazels voice. i swear, we go through the same thing, verbatim. oy. :)

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on August 10, 2011
at 06:31 PM

Yea, I try to stick with positives, too. As in, "Mommy, look at all those special treats!" (points to end display of junk food) "I've never had those before!" --- "Yup, and do you think there's a good reason why we don't buy those?" ---(thinks) "'Cause they won't help us grow big and strong." Repeat this discussion ad nauseum, on practically every trip through a grocery store.

65333605eb0e62ccdb9ffaac00727bc6

(150)

on September 09, 2012
at 11:18 AM

+1 Happy Now...I am working on the social grace thing with my 4 year old...Not about nutrition, but about physical differences...IE, an elderly woman we met yesterday who had a bandaid on her face (she said she had something removed by the doctor...her friend said she is very ill, so I think she might have skin cancer)...My little girl, "What's wrong with you? What happened to your face?" I know she's young and it's natural curiosity, but tact starts in the home, you know?

6
B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on August 10, 2011
at 06:25 PM

by instilling in them respect for others right to choose even if they choose wrong.

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on August 10, 2011
at 06:36 PM

Ah, an all-around extra useful parenting skill (paleo or not!), but one that's difficult to teach.

3874fa3e7624fb3134013c43766b6eba

(110)

on August 11, 2011
at 04:33 AM

That's how I handle smoking questions when my 5 yr old asks why someone is "cigaretting" outside the entrance to a store. "It's his choice to do that but Mommy doesn't do that". My son knows I believe cigarettes are very bad, and he's concerned for this stranger at the door - but when he hears it's that person's choice he tends to let it drop. I only wish it was that easy with his questions & commentary on grains & sugary-garbage treats.

B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on August 10, 2011
at 07:17 PM

i got better at it with each child. my oldest is very judgemental and in hindsight i think i was more vocally critical of other's parenting skills as a new parent, so my behaviour probably influenced this.

3
1a0976c846702f549ee4df0d811098be

(972)

on August 11, 2011
at 12:08 AM

I treat conversations with my kids the same way I treat anything I post online -just assume everyone in the world can and will read/hear it eventually. I don't say things to my kids that I wouldn't want them to repeat to their vegan preschool teacher. We talk about food that makes us feel good and strong, and food that makes us grumpy and feel sick. I frame it all in terms of my body and their bodies, so when they repeat it, it sounds more like the personal choice that it is, "that food makes my tummy hurt", than a judgment on other people's choices, "that food is poisonous junk."

3
Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on August 10, 2011
at 06:27 PM

I think the real problem here is that you've outdone yourself famgrok.

Your meal preps and customized lunchboxes are so great, and so creative, that your kids are having a hard time 'adjusting' to the reality that unfolds in front of them at school and elsewhere when out and about.

Kids will be kids when they are still kids. I say just teach them the social skills as best as you can and let them grow into it.

Medium avatar

(12379)

on August 10, 2011
at 07:26 PM

thanks for sticking that song in my head akd ;)

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on August 10, 2011
at 06:52 PM

its true that famgrocks gorgeous bento boxes bring all the boys to the yard.

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on August 10, 2011
at 06:52 PM

Thanks for the encouragement...the more "real world" activities we face (birthday parties, pizza parties, pot lucks and BBQs) the harder it gets for sure!

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on August 10, 2011
at 07:16 PM

D'oh! I was hoping that cultivating long-term habits for onion SeaSnax and garlic laden spaghetti squash bolognese was going to result in the boys staying far, far away from the yard by the time she reaches her teenage years. :-p Maybe I can set up a Crossfit Games style gauntlet that a guy has to master before he can come a'courtin'. ;-p

A45af235ed4dd0b4f548c59e91b75763

(1936)

on August 10, 2011
at 06:57 PM

Bento boxes? I don't think that is what is bringing them around..

2
Medium avatar

on August 11, 2011
at 12:54 AM

Teach them how to fight, so if they're jerks at least they won't get their asses handed to them.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on August 11, 2011
at 04:37 AM

+1 for a proper ballsy answer.

2
26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

on August 10, 2011
at 09:33 PM

I too think it's best to always give young kids important info from a ridiculously positive angle, and skate over the negative until they understand tact and the fact that not everyone does as they do.

I can't think of anything, really, that this doesn't apply to. Shaming and negativity leads to emotional, mental, and too often physical unhealthiness IMO.

Rather than labeling the processed foods you don't eat as 'bad', 'unhealthy', 'junk', 'will make you sick', 'nutritionally useless', 'sugary' - put all the focus on the healthy foods you do have in the house. Tell them how full of vitamins and minerals and healthy fats they are, and how eating these foods make you strong and fit, and keep your moods and energy level all day. Don't give in to demands to buy them processed foods, but let your kids try the (sadly) 'normal' food their peers eat. If you don't make them crave them as forbidden fruit, most of that stuff doesn't taste that good anyway...

2
Medium avatar

(12379)

on August 10, 2011
at 07:00 PM

This is such a great question! I think that kids really mirror the attitudes that are around them (but I have a 2yr old - so he mimics everything we say and do right now!) - so since your attitude isn't pompous I don't think theirs will be (for long anyways - sometimes actually most of the time kids just say whatever pops in their funny little heads).

I'm interested to see how your journey goes as to this question - will you be blogging about this also??

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on August 10, 2011
at 07:20 PM

It would make a great topic, indeed. Guess I'd have to feel like I'd honed a few workable strategies first

1
Af9537cfa50562b67979624e9007e12a

(1334)

on August 10, 2011
at 08:26 PM

You have to teach your kids respect for others ways, and when to keep their mouths shut in general anyway, this situation is no different. And like any other situation, when they are younger, things are going to pop out, part of being a kid.

0
2d5221fa80d04a3d8ac6f471f9feae81

(894)

on August 11, 2011
at 12:51 AM

I think the main thing kids should really be able to track and avoid during single digits and up to 12 is gluten. That and "sweets are bad and will make your teeth rot, like Timmy's there" will take care of any lasting damage if you control the rest of their food intake. I guess the job of any parent is to drag it out until 16 or so, when their wisdom teeth erupt properly. At least then you could say you've given them good healthy bodies unlike[insert examples of their mutant buddies with acne, braces and glasses]. These comparisons are extremely important. They will help tremendously in learning to observe and value their health by observing their peers. It should also be an easy sell once they hit the teens, because at that age they'll do anything to look pretty and not be so self-conscious.

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